Mary Beth Viveiros and Kate Lipner
Kate Lipner is a quirky out spoken French octogenarian who keeps busy by knitting and dispensing hand made scarf and beret ensembles to family and friends. She also just happens to be immortalized as part of the living history exhibit in the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie, Illinois for saving 3 Jewish children when she was a young woman in France.
Kate was alone at 17 living in an apartment in Nice. Her father had been taken as a prisoner of war and was in a forced labor camp. Her mother died and left her with a legacy. Before her passing she worked for a rich Jewish doctor’s family in their villa. They had come from Belgium. The father was taken on a street in Poland and ultimately died in the Holocaust. The mother fled to Spain and couldn’t take the children, 9 ½ year old Maurice and 5 year old Helene.
There were also neighbors on a farm next to the villa. The mother died from an illness leaving 2 year old Robert. So Kate’s mother took them in and hid them. And when she passed Kate hid them too from 1942 to 1944 in their small apartment in Nice. Frequently to avoid discovery they were hidden in an armoire in the bedroom.
“I was in the resistance and the underground. I dealt in the black market. I hid other children too. I can’t remember all of their names. I took them to Switzerland.”
The three children survived the holocaust. Kate has been in touch with them throughout the years. Robert enjoyed some fame as a stage actor. Helene is the only one still alive, a wife and mother of 5 and grandmother of 15.
At the end of the war Kate was able to see her father once more. He survived the labor camp to see his daughter marry an American soldier. Kate was a war bride. His fatherly advice; go and never look back. And that’s exactly what she did.
For more info: To hear more about Kate's story visit the Illinois Holocaust Museum.